Kitchen Hacks

Ina Garten’s Cauliflower Cutting Trick Is Beyond Brilliant

Ina Garten can't stop giving me reasons to adore her. I don't mind one bit.

September 28, 2018
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, is my everything.

I've been watching her cook beautiful spreads in her spotless—but not inaccessibly so—kitchen, and then throughout the pages of her books, for as long as I can remember. My best memories from middle school involve faking sick so I could stay home and lie in my parents bed, propped up on my elbows, mesmerized as she peeled potatoes effortlessly on the screen of their shoebox-sized television. As I was finding myself as a cook (and an opinionated eater) in high school, I'd make her coconut cupcakes once a month. I don't dread New York winters, because when they come, I know it's the season to curl up with a bowl of her roasted tomato and basil soup. When I became a full-time recipe developer, I sat my boyfriend Nate down and told him, "You know, this makes you my Jeffrey now."

So, it should come as no surprise that she's blown me away once again. This time, with a video she posted yesterday to Instagram with the caption: "If you’ve been cutting cauliflower through the top and getting little bits all over your kitchen, I have a better way to do it!!"

Of course I've been getting little bits of cauliflower all over my kitchen every time I break up a head into florets. I have little bits of cauliflower stuck to my floorboard from 2015.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“PRO TIP: leave in the plastic and thump it on your counter. Then, just pull the leaves and core out. You can transport this and dump from the "plastic bag" with ease and no mess :)”
— Angela

Here's her trick:

Essentially, she resists the temptation to hack at the top of the cauliflower head (or worse, go in from the side) to start cutting away bite-sized pieces—which almost always leads to a confetti-like spray of dismantled white scraps. Instead, she flips it over and removes the core of its stem, first. Then, she uses the tip of her knife to break away about a third of the head, and from there, cuts it into florets.

Garten's new book Cook Like a Pro comes out on October 28, and something tells me (okay, it's the second half of her Instagram caption) there's more cauliflower wisdom to come. If you need me in the meantime, I'll be practicing this technique.

To Use Up All That Cauliflower

Do you have a favorite Ina Garten trick (or recipe)? Let us know in the comments!


Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jacki
  • Rebecca Taylor Gay
    Rebecca Taylor Gay
  • Mark Yundt
    Mark Yundt
  • Elle Rae
    Elle Rae
  • Jayne Zabala
    Jayne Zabala
Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a a writer at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.


Jacki October 10, 2019
Ina Garten's Cook Like a Pro is already available on Amazon for $19.39 and free 1 day shipping if you're a Prime Member...just saying! Why wait??!!
Rebecca T. October 11, 2018
Obvious or not, it's a great technique that works well with broccoli too!
Rebecca T. October 11, 2018
Obvious or not, it's a great technique that works perfectly with broccoli too.
Mark Y. October 11, 2018
Yeah , really , cutting cauliflower . Like it’s amazing and it’s something beyond the average human . Just look at it and you know what to do and not make a mess. Really?
Elle R. October 11, 2018
Really people, you need help cutting cauliflower!!!
Jayne Z. October 11, 2018
Actually, the easiest way and safest way to core cauliflower is to hold it stem side down and thunk (technical term) it down on the counter a couple of times and the stem will easily pull out!
Angela October 11, 2018
PRO TIP: leave in the plastic and thump it on your counter. Then, just pull the leaves and core out. You can transport this and dump from the "plastic bag" with ease and no mess :)
FS October 11, 2018
Cool! I've been doing the iceberg lettuce thunk, now I'm going to apply it to cauliflower.
sue October 11, 2018
Wow. I've been cutting up cauliflower like Ina does for years and didn't know it. :-)
SophieL October 11, 2018
Me, too!
Mark Y. October 8, 2018
If you spend just a little time in a kitchen this is pretty much a no brainer. Cut a cauliflower in half just once and you know there is a better way. And another poster is correct . A smaller paring type knife instead of a large chef knife works much better.
strawberrygirl October 7, 2018
The only revelation here for me is that apparently most people weren't already doing it this way.
Elena October 2, 2018
I've always done it Ina's way. I like pulling the florets apart rather than cutting through them, they produce less mess and look nicer.

My mom taught me to core iceberg lettuce before washing it and cauliflower seemed to naturally work the same way.
Thea M. October 1, 2018
This seems a bit obvious. It’s a good trick for someone brand new to a kitchen, but the teaser on Instagram made me think I was going to learn something revolutionary. 🤷🏽‍♀️
Elena October 2, 2018
You mean you don't find it "beyond brilliant"?
Beth September 30, 2018
Is this seriously a eureka! moment? Always seemed a little obvious I guess. I doubt this clip “rocked the home cooking world”
Still a huge fan though. I wish I had come across her material when I was young. She has so many incredible recipes that can make any beginner home cook feel like a Top Chef
kenny L. September 29, 2018
Actually, the way she's approaching that head of cauliflower with an 8 or 10 inch chef's knife is a little dangerous.
Plunging that blade into the hard vegetable while resting on its rounded top is inherently unstable. All it would take to slice your thumb off is a little misdirected pressure and a slip.
Halve the cauliflower from the top, resting on it's base. Make a "V" cut excising the core from one half at a time.
This is a quicker, safer and more accurate method.
Emma C. September 30, 2018
I have been cutting cauliflower this way for decades. I use a paring knife, not a chef’s knife, but it is still dangerous as I found out when I used a bit too much torque with a very sharp knife, and ended up going to the ER to get five stitches at the base of my thumb. I now wear a cut-proof glove on the hand holding the cauliflower...
Author Comment
Ella Q. October 1, 2018
Ouch! I'm sorry to hear that.